Dinner as a concept dates back to the late 1200s. Back then it was considered to be the main meal of the day.
But as things evolved over time, and as the importance of being healthy came to be realised, that myth was busted. It is the breakfast that has since assumed that title, so to speak.
In the modern world, most of our activity gets concentrated as the day progresses and so our meals have come to begin heavy and end light.
Dr Siddhant Bhargava, fitness and nutritional scientist, co-founder Food Darzee, said: “A good night’s sleep, which is the time the body rests, is followed by breakfast. That’s the first meal of the day and is the most important one. After a night of rest, the body is ready to break its fast with a healthy breakfast. It is a meal that gives us glucose replenishing our energy levels and alertness. Breakfast also provides the body with other essential nutrients that promote good health.
“The lunch that follows is an important meal for everyone as its a source of energy and nutrients to ensure that the body and brain keep working efficiently through the afternoon before it’s time for dinner.”
Before we come to dinner, where we look at the idea of eating light, let us look at spacing out our meals. As activity tends to pick up during the day, it does not mean that one should skip meals. However small or light, meals should be spaced between and consumed without fail. Most follow a three-to-five-hour gap between their meals, which is good for a healthy lifestyle. Most experts will also suggest a breakfast that is heavy and extensive so that we can make a good start to our day.
But to keep our batteries charged, lunch is advisable.
“Lunch raises the blood sugar levels in the middle of the day ensuring the body of all the energy it needs till dinner. It also helps us focus on the various jobs that need to be done during the day. But skipping dinner will lead to a massive spacing between the two meals. A regular gap between the first and the last meal of the day as a result of skipping dinner will cause a negative impact on health and is an invitation to nutritional deficiencies,” says Dr Bhargava.
“Making sure that the dinner intake is in the time between 7 to 8pm or even a little earlier can reduce the overall calorie intake greatly. Since we are very active during the day and burn away all the calories that we consume by evening, our digestion slows down. Processing lighter foods becomes easier for the body. One must remember that foods the body does not burn within 2-3 hours of eating will be stored as fat. And then a light dinner also helps in clearing the bowels,” he said.
“Dinner is not to be had for the sake of eating, but because the body needs to fuel up after a day full of activity and exertion. Entirely skipping the dinner or eating way too much for dinner are both not beneficial. It is a myth that skipping dinner is a boon because it actually risks overeating during the day.
“There are many ways of eating light, yet making sure that you don't wake up hungry. For one, skipping the grains and only eating proteins, vegetables, and fruits would help. Also, eating in moderation, having the meal slowly, and sipping some tea before bedtime might be beneficial.”
While making light eating at dinner a practice, do listen to what your body is saying. Some of us usually feel less hungry at night after a day beginning with a heavy breakfast and including a scrumptious lunch.
And so, while eating light is good, what you eat is also important. Even if a light dinner with starchy vegetables, fish, eggs, quinoa, or millets is a good idea, one other thing to do could be to halve the amount of protein consumed for lunch and see how your light dinner experience goes.